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April 05, 2013 2:23 pm

Sheriff says Cody man who murdered wife was ‘nightmare’ to house at jail

Written by CJ Baker

The Park County Sheriff’s Office wasted no time in getting Myron J. Friday into the state’s custody after he accepted a life-long prison sentence for murdering his wife.

A little after midnight on March 27 — only about 13 hours after his sentencing in District Court in Cody — Park County Detention Center deputies awoke Friday and loaded him into a transport vehicle.

The 30-year-old Friday was in the state Department of Corrections’ custody in Torrington before breakfast.

“We woke him up at midnight and at 5:30 (a.m.) he was sitting at his new home for the next ... life,” said Park County Sheriff Scott Steward.

That trip ended a 394-day stint in the county jail that began with Friday’s arrest on Feb. 27, 2012. That was the day after he murdered his wife, 44-year-old Julie J. Friday, by repeatedly stabbing her with a screwdriver.

“He was a nightmare for us,” Steward said. “He challenged us daily.”

The sheriff said the problems came to a head roughly a month ago after Friday was caught with contraband that appeared to be for a weapon. When deputies prepared to put him in handcuffs, Friday began scuffling with the guards, Steward said. The five guards took him to the ground, but when Friday was put back on his feet, he spit in the face of one of the deputies, Steward said. Friday later kicked one of the deputies in the groin and was put in handcuffs for an hour, the sheriff said. When staff went to un-cuff Friday, he fought some more and again spit in a deputy’s face, Steward said.

There were also threats, he said.

“He was telling our people that ‘my brothers from the Rez’ (the Wind River Indian Reservation) are going to come and take you and kill you and your family,” Steward said. “That’s when I said, ‘Enough’s enough.’”

A decision was made to put Friday in solitary confinement.

“I said, ‘I don’t care if he’s in there for the next six months,’” said Steward.

In mid-March, Friday agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder instead of taking his case to trial in May. He could potentially be released on parole if a future governor chose to commute his life sentence to a shorter term.

Court records speak to other, less severe conflicts during Friday’s stay in jail. For example, Friday had wanted to have a traditional smudging ceremony at the jail. The Native American ceremony involves burning a mixture of cedar, soil and other natural materials intended to cleanse and heal an individual’s spirit.

Lt. Tod Larson, the detention center’s administrator, denied the request.

At a December court hearing, George Leonard — a Northern Arapaho member who performs smudging ceremonies — suggested Friday’s beliefs were being treated differently than other religions.

“If it was requested for a clergy to come in, I don’t think there would be much resistance,” Leonard said.

Larson, however, told District Court Judge Robert Skar that clergy are similarly not allowed to have close contact with inmates; clergy speak with inmates through a glass barrier like other jail visitors do, he said. Larson also said the items needed for the smudging ceremony — dirt, a brass pot, matches, charcoal, etc. — wouldn’t be allowed into the jail for any reason.

He did say the jail has allowed non-denominational Bible study leaders and their guitars into a classroom with inmates. However, Larson said the jail does not allow religious services such as baptisms or communion.

Judge Skar agreed Larson did not have to allow the service inside the jail, but ordered arrangements be made to let Friday have the ceremony somewhere.

Court records also say jail staff seized a plastic trash bag Friday had twisted into a kind of twine or rope during his time at the detention center.

“Even though it was used in artwork, I’m sure you understand why we cannot have that type of item inside the detention center,” Larson wrote to Friday’s attorneys in an email included in court records.

The Cody Enterprise reported that after Friday’s sentencing hearing last week, his mother — in between obscenities about Julie Friday’s family and a confrontation with a KULR-8 TV reporter — called out a complaint that her son hadn’t been treated well in Park County.

Steward watched surveillance video of the altercations Friday had with detention deputies and he praised his staff for its restraint.

“My staff was just phenomenal in dealing with him,” he said.

Friday’s defense has declined to comment on Friday’s time in the jail.

2 comments

  • Comment Link April 06, 2013 12:01 pm posted by Randi Reiter

    This must have been terrible for your department. Thank goodness he will be leaving.
    I was called to be on the jury for his trial, but was excused due to my unwavering opinions on his guilt.

  • Comment Link April 07, 2013 7:07 am posted by katie

    It just goes to show what type of person this piece of trash really is, he has no respect for life or authority way to go to Sheriff Department.

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